Friday, February 13

A House Divided


Discrimination based upon skin colour is rampant in the world and is very difficult to remove. Very. It's like it's in our genes if you excuse the pun. The main reason is that we are tribal people. At heart. Biologically speaking. We are predisposed to form groups. These groups are defined by as much as what they are as they aren't. In other words, people define themselves as something that they are and what they aren't with reference with others. This is very very common. I find myself doing this all the time. Casual racism and discrimination is rife son. The only two ways to sort this is by economics (money makes these differences disappear, somewhat) and intermarriage. This is true for non racial discrimination like religious, caste or jati, linguistic, national etc. 

but good intentions usually don't work out as this story tells. 



(Saving...) A House Divided | Moment Magazine

A Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative Story

At apartheid’s end, the dorms of the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein were integrated.
At first it went well, then the students chose to resegregate. A story of the continuing battle against racism in South Africa.

Billyboy Ramahlele heard the riot before he saw it. It was a February evening in 1996, autumn in South Africa, when cooling breezes from the Cape of Good Hope push north and turn the hot days of the country’s agricultural heartland into sweet nights, when the city of Bloemfontein’s moonlit trees and cornfields rustle sultrily beneath a vast sky glittering with stars. The 32-year-old dormitory manager at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein was relaxing in front of a wildlife program on the TV with his door open.

Suddenly, he became aware of a new noise. Could it be the trees, rustling in a gust? No, it was heavier, more like trampling. Could it be his TV? He switched it off. The noise grew louder.

Thursday, February 12

Food stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle


Yesterday I was chairing the finance committee at a charity. Which is an animal shelter. We help abandoned and abused animals, train vet surgeons etc etc. Very nice place.

But one of the things that we were talking about was how do we help our staff members. The basic problem is that people cannot survive in London on minimum wages. At about £15000 per year, after taxes, it's impossible to live. Their money runs out about the 22nd of every month. And then it becomes a nightmare. Like it's described here in the article.

Kids, being poor is very bad. Having had gone through this, it's soul destroying. Specially if you have children. Yes you may ask why have children when you're poor and cannot afford them but human nature and sex does that. Be that as it may, the human behaviour of people changes when they are poor. Very differently kids.
But we've got to help them kids. That's the mark of civilised people that we help others who are unfortunately in a worse situation than us.

London is more expensive than rest of the country so minimum wage doesn't work. So we are going to pay our staff at minimum wage an increase to what's called as a living wage. It will impact our delivery. It's a difficult decision as every pound we spend on staff has to be taken away from an animal. But it has to be done. We have to think holistically. Animals wouldn't be treated well if we have an underpaid hungry staff member. Yes. Hunger happens here in the uk kids. You've never experienced it and I promise you never will as long as I am alive but it's a very corrosive feeling.

Read this article kids. And think about how you can help the more unfortunate members in our society. And what can we do as citizens to make sure that we avoid this problem in the first place.



WOONSOCKET, R.I. – The economy of Woonsocket was about to stir to life. Delivery trucks were moving down river roads, and stores were extending their hours. The bus company was warning riders to anticipate “heavy traffic.” A community bank, soon to experience a surge in deposits, was rolling a message across its electronic marquee on the night of Feb. 28: “Happy shopping! Enjoy the 1st.”

In the heart of downtown, Miguel Pichardo, 53, watched three trucks jockey for position at the loading dock of his family-run International Meat Market. For most of the month, his business operated as a humble milk-and-eggs corner store, but now 3,000 pounds of product were scheduled for delivery in the next few hours. He wiped the front counter and smoothed the edges of a sign posted near his register. “Yes! We take Food Stamps, SNAP, EBT!”

“Today, we fill the store up with everything,” he said. “Tomorrow, we sell it all.”

At precisely one second after midnight, on March 1, Woonsocket would experience its monthly financial windfall — nearly $2 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Federal money would be electronically transferred to the broke residents of a nearly bankrupt town, where it would flow first into grocery stores and then on to food companies, employees and banks, beginning the monthly cycle that has helped Woonsocket survive.

Three years into an economic recovery, this is the lasting scar of collapse: a federal program that began as a last resort for a few million hungry people has grown into an economic lifeline for entire towns. Spending on SNAP has doubled in the past four years and tripled in the past decade, surpassing $78 billion last year. A record 47 million Americans receive the benefit — including 13,752 in Woonsocket, one-third of the town’s population, where the first of each month now reveals twin shortcomings of the U.S. economy:

So many people are forced to rely on government support.

The government is forced to support so many people.

Wednesday, February 11

Private Ceremonies


Abortion is a right that I fully support. Totally without reservations. Men cannot and will not ever understand what women go through pregnancy and the reasons women like to go ahead or terminate are their’s to decide. All you can do is to hold their hands and pray for the best. Don't ask too many questions. Just be there for her. Whatever she decides and whatever you feel. It's not for you to debate this. 

It's heart wrenching for the man as well but you can deal with it. It's not important when you compare with what the woman is going through son. 

Just be there. Rub their backs. Get icecream for them. Quietly listen to them biting your head off. 

Cry if you will. In private. 



Private Ceremonies | Vela

I had only a minute while I waited for the doctor to meet my patient. I grabbed a plastic cup and a pregnancy test from the lab and slipped into the bathroom. This is one of the perks of working at an abortion clinic – all the pregnancy tests you can take. My husband Jeff and I had been trying to get pregnant with our second child. But every month when I placed those two drops of urine into the reservoir, the results had been the same. One stripe. Negative. I steeled myself for the same.

I stood at the bathroom sink, watching. The two minutes it takes for the sample to travel from reservoir to top of the test seemed like hours. Finally, faintly, a second stripe shadowed the first. A thrill shot through me.

I did not shout. I did not run into the hallway to announce to my coworkers my news. I wanted to race to the phone to call Jeff, but I knew I wouldn’t have time before the next surgery, and besides, I wanted to tell him in person. Mostly, I wanted to let the idea sink in. I pressed my hand against my lower belly, as if to give my little zygote a welcoming hug. Still, as happy as I was, I was also afraid.

Tuesday, February 10

Could California's Salmon Make a Comeback?


The collapse of the pisiculture and fish stocks is one of the big disasters currently happening. There are loads of reasons. Like this happening outside normal life. Who cares about fish? You can't see them can you? 

Second is the issue of politics. The European fisheries policy, the American one. The Asian policies are frankly extremely stupid and short sighted. 

So we are slowly screwing up one of the worlds most important biodiversity species and sources of protein. 

And once fish stocks collapse, they don't return usually. They leave behind a sea desert. As a Bengali son, this is cultural, scientific and logical for us to Worry about and raise our voices. 



Could California's Salmon Make a Comeback? | OnEarth Magazine

After years of decline, the rich human community that depends on California’s salmon runs may at last be rebounding

Jon Rosenfield and I bushwhack through the scrubby willows that line the American River east of Sacramento. The air is crisp this October morning, and the timing of our visit should be just right to watch California’s Chinook salmon as they return to where their lives began and spawn the next generation. Rosenfield, a biologist, works for a conservation group called the Bay Institute, and he wants me to witness an annual ritual that future generations might not have the opportunity to see.

For the salmon, it’s the end of a hard journey that typically lasts three years. After hatching in the river’s gravelly bottom, the young often hang out in its shallow backwaters, developing the bulk and camouflage they need for survival. They then travel downstream toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — the tidal estuary where they start their transition from fresh to salt water — and out through San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. There the fish spend most of their lives, feasting on krill, crab larvae, herring, sardines, and anchovies. This is in preparation for the most arduous part of their life cycle: the swim upstream to close the loop. By the time the salmon reach the spot where Rosenfield and I are standing, their energy has been channeled entirely from survival toward reproduction. They’ve stopped eating. Their skin is falling off. After depositing eggs or fertilizing them, they will die. Their carcasses — “these millions of 20-, 30-, 40-pound bags of fertilizer,” says Rosenfield — will be eaten by coyotes, bears, and eagles, which in turn will spread their droppings across forest floors and agricultural fields. “In watersheds where wine grapes are grown and salmon still spawn,” he says, “you can detect the ocean-nutrient signature in the wine.”

Monday, February 9

incarceration maps


this is a map of all the concentration camps in Germany during World War II. When you manage to kill 6 million people and many more injured or imprisoned, then the infrastructure required is going to be vast.


The above is only for all the federal prisons.

Here’s another view of the prisons in USA from here.


Another factoid

To put these figures in context, we have slightly more jails and prisons in the U.S. -- 5,000 plus -- than we do degree-granting colleges and universities. In many parts of America, particularly the South, there are more people living in prisons than on college campuses.